My mother, JoAnn Elliott grew up in an oil town 100 miles west of Dallas/Ft Worth. In 1920 Breckenridge's population was 1,500. By the next year due to the oil boom this little Texas town’s population grew to 30,000 people! Overnight Breckenridge changed from a sleepy agricultural town to what was called the fastest growing, busiest oil city in the country producing millions of barrels of oil.
When JoAnn was born a few years later in 1926 there were estimated to be 175 oil wells pumping day and night within the town’s city limits. With this sudden influx of oil money new buildings popped up along the red brick downtown streets including The Palace Movie Theater.
Nobody had televisions back then so Saturday matinees became JoAnn and her five siblings window to the outside world. At the Picture Show she could escape the constant, rhythmic groans of smelly pumping oil rigs and enter a magical place where everything was possible.
When she was nine years old the film version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” starring James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and Olivia de Havilland was showing. It was the child actor, Mickey Rooney, playing Puck, JoAnn was eager to see. He was close to her age, and she was a huge fan.
After lunch she and her sisters Betty and Alice Kate made their way past the oil derricks that dotted every block of town. They were close to being late for the movie. Running trying to keep up with her older sisters, JoAnn tripped and fell onto the hard brick street.
“Hurry up!” Betty shouted, then turning back saw her baby sister whimpering on the ground.
“She is hurt,” Alice Kate exclaimed. They both stopped.
JoAnn fought back her tears. “I am fine. Let’s go.”
The three sisters continued on to the movie as JoAnn valiantly hid the pain of her now throbbing finger. Barely able to open her little hand to give her nine cents to the ticket taker she forced a grin as they sat down to enter the world of Shakespeare for the first time.
JoAnn was enchanted by the film's fantastic forest fairies and sprites. She completely forgot about her bent and swelling finger as Mickey Rooney’s impish Puck charmed her in the film that led him to become a major star of the big screen. Shakespeare purists may not approve of this version of “A Midsummer Nights Dream” but after seeing it, little JoAnn was enamored not just with Mickey Rooney but also the Bard.
By the time this stoic little girl's mother was able to get her to a doctor JoAnn’s broken baby finger was slightly, yet permanently kinked. I have fond memories of sitting on my grandmother’s white hand-crocheted bedspread in my parents bedroom, as Mom told me why one of her little fingers was not straight. This crooked pinky forever remained a reminder of that eventful afternoon when the mischievous Puck lifted her up from a Texas oil town to become a lifelong lover of Shakespeare and the theatre.
If you enjoy my blog you may also want to read my adventure travel memoir Amazon Hitchhiker: A Woman’s Adventures from Canada to Brazil and my award-winning children's book Milo and the Mustang.
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has spent her life adventuring all over the world. If you enjoy the stories and travel writing tips in this blog, you will also love her books: Amazon Hitchhiker:A Woman’s Adventures from Canada to Brazil and her award-winning children's book Milo and the Mustang.